COLLEGE STATION, TX — The Texas State Softball Championships is one of the first events to take place in the Brazos Valley since the onset of the coronavirus, and tournament officials say numerous precautions will be taken by all parties.
Since Governor Greg Abbott gave the go-ahead for sports to start back the beginning of June, tournament organizers have been working to bring the state softball championships back to Bryan-College Station.
“Texas State Championship has been coming to Bryan College Station for about eight years now. We have about 100 teams coming in from all over the state, and we are kind of excited about trying this new normal,” said Bryan College Station Sports and Events Director Dominique Powell.
Organizers have developed a list of COVID-19 protocols, such as having designated warm-up areas.
“We had to think through how to give them their own space, give them a staging area but yet be mindful of the fact that we wanted everybody to stay safe and socially spaced,” explained Cowart Sports Events President & CEO Cindy Cowart.
Cowart says even the customary coin toss is different.
“Only one coach, some of that in the past the teams like to bring three or four of their captains with them to plate to do their coin flips so that had to be changed,” she said.
Economically, City of College Station's Athletics and Tourism Manager Gene Ballew says the tournament is coming at good time.
“It also helps our town a little bit as well, bringing some business into the area, helps the local hotels and local business as well,” she said.
In 2019, sport tourism roughly brought $42 million into the Bryan-College Station economy. Over the next three days, an estimated $1.7 million will serve to boost the local economy- an economy that's still trying to recover.
“We don’t know what to expect honestly with the new habits of people traveling and getting back out. We don’t know who is going to do what,” said Powell
The hope is that the Texas State Softball Championships will be a blueprint for other sporting events to copy.
Play begins on Friday, June 19 and runs through Sunday, June 21. Games will take place at Veterans Park, Central Park, and Bee Creek Park in College Station, as well as Bryan Regional Athletic Complex in Bryan.